White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant.
Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, is being bombarded with online reviews after refusing to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s press secretary, and her family.
On Friday night, Jaike Foley-Schultz, who claims to be a waiter at The Red Hen, explained on Facebook that he waited on the White House official for about two minutes before his boss asked her to leave the establishment.
Sanders later confirmed the incident on Twitter, writing, “Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
In his Facebook post, Foley-Schultz also shared a photograph of a handwritten note from the restaurant that said, “86 Sara Huckabee Sanders.” (Mashable reached out to The Red Hen for additional comment.)
The story gained attention after Brennan Gilmore, the director of Clean Virginia, a nonprofit focused on clean energy, shared the photo on Twitter. Soon, the restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages were flooded with mixed reviews.
.@PressSec got kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va tonight. Apparently the owner didn’t want to serve her and her party out of moral conviction. pic.twitter.com/jr3bfiY3XY
The Red Hen’s Yelp page has been active since 2009, and the time of writing the restaurant had 273 five star reviews and 229 one star reviews.
Since May, the establishment’s overall rating also appears to have dropped from 5 stars to 3 stars for the first time in 2018.
It should be noted that a majority of the Yelp reviews from Saturday only comment on Red Hen’s political views and managerial actions related to the refusal to serve Sanders, rather than the food or restaurant experience. Mashable reached out to Yelp to see if the site will take action to remove the off-subject reviews, as they appear to be a violation of the platform’s guidelines for posting content.
Under the “Relevance” section of the site’s guidelines, Yelp states:
“Please make sure your contributions are relevant and appropriate to the forum. For example, reviews aren’t the place for rants about a business’s employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don’t address the core of the consumer experience.”
A Yelp spokesperson pointed to the site’s user guidelines in a statement given to Mashable:
“When businesses make the news, their Yelp business page can be affected. Media-fueled reviews typically violate our Content Guidelines, one of which deals with relevance. Yelp reviews are required to describe a firsthand consumer experience, not what someone read in the news. Our user support team ultimately removes reviews that violate these guidelines. More info on how Yelp handles these types of circumstances on this page of our Support site.”
The Red Hen’s refusal to serve Sanders comes amidst backlash against the Trump administration’s harsh “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that’s resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their families at the border.
Earlier this week Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen dealt with protesters while dining out at a Mexican restaurant (she eventually fled), and she was confronted again on Friday by protesters again outside her house who were blasting the audio recording of migrant children crying in detention centers.
Perhaps members of the Trump administration should look into some take-out dining options until better immigration laws are implemented.
UPDATED June 23, 2018 6:31 p.m. ET with a statement from a Yelp spokesperson.